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The Supreme Court reversed and vacated in part the judgment of the court of appeals with respect to Defendant’s convictions for malicious wounding and use of a firearm during the commission of a malicious wounding and entered judgment reinstating those two convictions. In reversing the two convictions, the court of appeals held that no rational fact-finder could infer that Defendant attacked the victim with a malicious intent to main, disfigure, disable, or kill him during the robbery. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that, where the attack actually injured the victim, the evidence supported the reasonable inference that Defendant had the intent to maliciously wound the victim. View "Commonwealth v. Perkins" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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At issue was how to construe a will’s residuary clause to determine what estate it granted to the testator’s wife (Wife) and whether Appellants were entitled to their attorneys’ fees under the doctrine of judicial instructions. Testator’s son filed a complaint asking the circuit court to construe the residuary clause as granting Wife a life estate in the residual property. The circuit court granted Wife’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that the intent of Testator was to devise and bequeath all of the rest and residue of the estate to Wife and that a life estate was not created. Despite this adverse ruling, Testator’s two sons (together, Appellants) moved for the circuit court to tax their attorneys’ fees against the estate on the ground that the meaning of the residuary clause required judicial instruction. The circuit court declined to do so. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) the residuary clause unambiguously granted Wife a life estate in the residual property; and (2) the circuit court properly refused to award attorneys’ fees under the doctrine of judicial instructions. View "Feeney v. Feeney" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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Va. Code 18.2-279 does not require, as an element of the crime of unlawful discharge of a firearm within an occupied building, proof that the firearm was not discharged accidentally or inadvertently. Defendant was indicted for unlawfully discharging a firearm within an occupied building in violation of section 18.2-279. At trial, the defense raised only the issue of Defendant’s intent when firing the shot. The jury returned a verdict finding Defendant guilty as charged. Defendant appealed, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction because of a lack of proof that she intentionally discharged the firearm and that the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury that the Commonwealth had the burden to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that her discharge of the firearm was not accidental. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction; and (2) Defendant’s proposed jury instruction placing the burden upon the Commonwealth to prove that the discharge of the firearm was not accidental was properly refused as an incorrect statement of the law. View "Bryant v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Involuntary manslaughter under Va. Code 18.2-154 is the “same offense” as common law involuntary manslaughter. Defendant was convicted of both common law involuntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter under Va. Code 18.2-154. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss one of the charges, arguing that the Double Jeopardy Clause barred a conviction for both manslaughter offenses. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for a new sentencing proceeding to be held after the Commonwealth elected which conviction it would seek to have sentence imposed on. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant was twice convicted and sentenced in the same trial of the same offense - involuntary manslaughter - in violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause. View "Commonwealth v. Gregg" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Involuntary manslaughter under Va. Code 18.2-154 is the “same offense” as common law involuntary manslaughter. Defendant was convicted of both common law involuntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter under Va. Code 18.2-154. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss one of the charges, arguing that the Double Jeopardy Clause barred a conviction for both manslaughter offenses. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for a new sentencing proceeding to be held after the Commonwealth elected which conviction it would seek to have sentence imposed on. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant was twice convicted and sentenced in the same trial of the same offense - involuntary manslaughter - in violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause. View "Commonwealth v. Gregg" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this dispute over contractual provision in a real estate purchase agreement (agreement) allocating future development rights for properties located near a new Metro rail station, the circuit court did not err in dismissing RECP IV WG Land Investors LLC’s (WG Land) suit against Capital One Bank (USA), N.A. (Capital One). WG Land, an assignee of certain rights of the seller under the agreement, sued Capital One, the assignee of the purchaser, alleging that Capital One breached the agreement and certain related covenants by developing the property acquired under the agreement without conveying a portion of floor area ratio rights to WG Land. The circuit court ultimately all three counts in the complaint and awarded attorney’s fees and costs to Capital One. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in sustaining Capital One’s demurrer as to Count I, sustaining Capital One’s plea in bar and granting its motion for summary judgment as to Counts II and III, and awarding attorney’s fees and costs to Capital One. View "RECP IV WG Land Investors LLC v. Capital One Bank" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the State Corporation Commission concluding that certain large customers may purchase electricity from any licensed supplier of energy in the Commonwealth under Va. Code 56-577(A)(5) without being subject to the notice requirement set forth in section 56-577(A)(3). Specifically, the Court held (1) customers who satisfy the size requirements of section (A)(3) can purchase electricity from a competitive service provider under section (A)(5), provided that they satisfy the separate conditions of section (A)(5); (2) sections (A)(3) and (A)(5) are not in conflict; and (3) the notice requirement in section (A)(3) does not apply to purchases made under section (A)(5). View "Virginia Electric & Power Co. v. State Corp. Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff’s wrongful death action against the manufacturer of a lift truck, holding that Plaintiff’s evidence failed, as a matter of law, to establish a design defect. Plaintiff sued the manufacturer of the lift truck, on theories of negligent design and breach of an express or implied warranty. A jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff on a theory of negligent design. The trial court subsequently dismissed the case on the basis that the evidence established contributory negligence as a matter of law. The Supreme Court affirmed on the alternate basis that Plaintiff’s evidence failed to establish a negligent design as a matter of law. View "Evans v. NACCO Materials Handling Group" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court dismissed Sherman Brown’s petition seeking a writ of actual innocence pursuant to Va. Code 19.2-327.1 to -327.6, which govern writs of actual innocence based on biological evidence, for two independent reasons. In 1970, Brown was found guilty of first-degree murder of a four-year-old child. In 2017, Brown filed his petition for a writ of actual innocence, asserting that he was “actually innocent” of the crime and that recent DNA testing by a private laboratory conclusively exonerated him with “clear and convincing evidence.” In dismissing the petition, the Supreme Court held (1) the findings of the Commonwealth’s Department of Forensic Science (DFS) did not support Brown’s claim of actual innocence; and (2) the evidence submitted by Brown in the writ proceeding did not provide, in the aggregate, clear and convincing proof that “no rational trier of fact would have found proof of guilt…beyond a reasonable doubt.” View "In re Brown" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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At issue in this case was the extent to which a corporate taxpayer must include in its Virginia taxable income royalties paid to an intangible holding company. The Virginia Supreme Court held that the circuit court correctly determined that only the portion of the royalties that was actually taxed by another state falls within the subject-to-tax exception. However, the circuit court erred by failing to hold, in accordance with Kohl's alternative argument, that Kohl's Illinois need not be the entity that pays this tax for the exception to apply. Accordingly, the court reversed the circuit court's judgment and remanded for a determination of what portion of the royalty payments was actually taxed by another state and thus excepted from the add back statute. View "Kohl's Department Stores, Inc. v. Virginia Department of Taxation" on Justia Law

Posted in: Tax Law